Computers in a Club

Computer Usage Policy

Computers are being increasingly used in clubs. Most have procedures in place in respect of data back-up, virus protection, use of passwords and the acceptable and unacceptable use of the computer. However, few give this area much attention, so it is advisable that the committee periodically review their computer usage policy. No club should be in a position where they have to say to the auditor or licencing authority ‘we don’t have any records or membership details for last year because the Secretary left and deleted all the files’.

Some of the more common problems can be avoided if a computer literate member of the committee oversees certain matters such as the regular back-up and off line storage of key data; this is certainly advisable where a new Secretary has been appointed. Some of the common problems we encounter are:

On-line banking

Clubs frequently go from the requirement for two to three officers to signing cheques to one person having complete control over the club’s finances. The risk posed by electronic banking for individuals, charities and small businesses have been well published. Many have been defrauded by internal bookkeepers and administrators through the use of electronic banking facilities. The best solution is to require ‘dual authorisation’ of transactions online or by telephone, this will mean clubs will have the option to make payments electronically but still have more than one person authorise the payment securely. Until the facility becomes available our recommendation is that the club continues to use cheques signed by two or more officers.

H M Revenue & Customs ID and password

HMRC supplies online identifying codes to enable the club to file MTD VAT returns, payroll under RTI and access other services. Without these codes the club is unable to file these returns leaving themselves open to hefty penalties. We frequently come across situations that on the departure of a Secretary the committee are unable to find these codes and when they contact HMRC the new Secretary is unable to pass the security checks. Obtaining new codes and passwords can take a considerable amount of explanations and we have seen delays of up to three months in obtaining this information. To avoid this problem codes should be held by a person in addition to the Secretary, such as the Chairman, other officer or ourselves, we currently hold in excess of one hundred HMRC identity codes for our clients. This procedure can save the club both time and money.

Use of Electronic Mail

The club should have its own email address and all electronic correspondence to and from the club should be made using this address. The ability to send and receive correspondence will not be restricted as with modern devices email addresses can be accessed from remote locations and by more than one person.
When communicating with members use the ‘contact group’ or ‘BCC’ commands, these functions keep members’ contact details private. Do not use the ‘to’ command. We have encountered a number of instances where disgruntled members have started a campaign against the club by using its own members’ contact list.
Without a computer usage policy there is little to stop officers and employees carrying out all kinds of bad practices. A few simple controls could save the club money and time as well as reducing the risk of its reputation being tarnished.